Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bradford County natural gas maps

Wowie Zowie!

Take a scroll through these eye-popping maps of Bradford County compiled by the Bradford County Office of Planning & Grants and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection...

Natural Gas Information (maps)

Yeah, and the Susquehanna River runs right through the middle of all of it. It flows downhill to us.


Northeast Driller

I'm not sure how many of you have seen this, but it is being distributed here in the Wyoming Valley.

NorthEast Driller

I got the paper copy just this past week.

Honestly, it's heavily loaded with stories of how much the drilling companies are giving back to the community.


Google + Project

Google finally rolls with it's competitor to Facebook...

the Google+Project


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Freak Out! on WILK?

While I could be getting some bad Intel on this one, I really don't believe as much.

Frank Zappa: Freak Out!

Freak Out! is the debut album by American band The Mothers of Invention, released June 27, 1966 on Verve Records. Often cited as one of rock music's first concept albums, the album is a satirical expression of frontman Frank Zappa's perception of American pop culture. It was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music (although Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde preceded it by a week), and the first 2-record debut.

Make note of the date, June 27, 1966. That makes tomorrow the 45th anniversary of the release of what was, in my mostly twisted mind, a monumental vinyl LP.

I think I first heard snippets of it while I was suffering through the insufferable 7th grade. And I know damn well where I was when I bought my first copy of it, at The Boston Store, now known as Boscov's.

From the e-mail inbox: It is a tribute to Freak Out, which turns 45 on Monday!!!! We'll air it at 3 with some commentary by one of our students who loves Zappa.

If this is what happens when the station manager goes away on vacation, count me in. I'll happily pay a generous monthly stipend into her vacation fund.

Just as much as you wonder 'bout me staring back at you...


Advance recon paddle (RiverFest 2011)

Iowa-class platform by Kayak Dude.

Pictures by Markie Cour.

Music by Marque Cour.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yeah, seriously

The Northeast Marcellus Initiative?


Uh, okay. Let’s go there.

Seriously, Guys? You’re Protesting RiverFest?

The hard-to-read excerpt: Haven’t had the chance yet to formally introduce myself; hope to do that a bit later this week by way of a post on the site. But the quick file on me is that I was born and raised in northeast Pennsylvania — about the length of two unfurled rings of kielbasa from the Susquehanna River. I served in the Marine Corps, and spent time in the Middle East serving our country in Iraq. Since then, most of my professional experience has been in the fight to protect and preserve clean water, most recently as a manager for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

 Given that background, then, perhaps you can see why a guy like me would be disappointed in an article like this, which appeared earlier this week in the Times Leader. In it, TL reporter Terrie Morgan-Besecker essentially turns over the space to activists from the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC), who decided to launch a formal protest of the Wyoming Valley RiverFest earlier this month simply because the event was supported in part by Chesapeake and Williams. From the piece (after the jump):

 Don Williams of Wyalusing Rocks said he opposes the decision to accept sponsorship money from Chesapeake Energy and Williams Energy Services based on the industry’s history of polluting the Susquehanna River. … “You can’t take money form [sic.] those who are polluting the river,” [GDAC's Scott] Cannon said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Here’s your first glaring mistake Johnny: the much-targeted GDAC had absolutely nothing to do with the conception of, the planning of or the implementation of that protest. None. Nada. No way. Nope.

In addition, Don Williams is not a member of said group. Duh!

In fact, while GDAC members did in fact willingly flock to that protest, in my opinion, they proved that they are much more adept at holding protest signs overhead than they are having their facts completely straight. And, if I may, winning hearts & minds does not come easily to the overzealous.

Personally, I am not impressed.

Truth is, Don Williams, who has never resided in Wyalusing Rocks (?) was the birth parent of this particular protest. And, no, while he’s never rolled an M1A2 into Iraq or any other water-starved sand kingdom, he has been studiously eyeballing all things water quality in NEPA since I’ve known him---since 2001.

Unlike you, Johnny-come-fracking-lately, he’s not wedded to the company line…

Company line: Methane bubbles? Oh, c’mon, this area is known for methane bubbling up here, there and almost everywhere.

Need a yo-yo? It’s a green yo-yo, proof of our commitment to protecting the environment. No?

Seriously, John?

You’re protesting those who would unequivocally demand that our water supplies are safe and usable for the foreseeable future? For future generations?

Really, John?

That’s what’s got you so ticked off?

That’s what’s got you so spooked, as an advocate of fracking, fracking and more fracking---that somebody might stand in the way of NEPA’s second go-round with unchecked environmental degradation and put a major league dent in your quarterly bonus check?

Seriously, John?

You’re protesting the guy who helped to develop RiverFest?


Friday, June 24, 2011

Skrapits made me do it

Elizabeth Skrapits, a reporter for the Citizens' Voice, writes this weekly column by which she dredges up some of the long-forgotten history of the Back Mountain, and every now and again, the history of Harveys Lake.
Since I want my ashes to one day settle into the deepest, darkest, murkiest depths of Harveys Lake, I look forward to this feature every week.

For the purposes of reminiscing about the vibrant Harveys Lake of the 1960s, three areas will always come to mind: Sunset, Hanson's Amusement Park and Sandy Beach.

Sunset had the game rooms and whatnot, Hanson's was a full-blown amusement park at the time and Sandy Beach had drive-in movies, amusement rides, the bathhouse, the locker rooms, paddle boats, pontoon boats, the docks, the bingo parlor, the pinball hall, the upstairs dance hall featuring Eddie Day & The Nightimers on weekends and, for this struggling young sprat barely old enough to be trusted with one of those newfangled ink pens, Ben Rood.

6-yr-old Markie in Rood's Grove
Basically, Ben Rood owned all of the property just across the road from Sandy Beach. And his grove which sat behind the now shuttered Sandy Beach Inn, a tree-lined and grassy nook containing 16 or 18 one, two and three-room cabins assembled in a U-shape, was always sold-out when the temperatures started to soar.

Ben and his wife Barbara were tight with my grandparents. To this day, I don't know how or why, but they were and that resulted in Ben being like another grandfather to me. So much so, that he put me in charge of collecting the dollar bills from those who were enticed to park along the frontage of the shuttered inn by the sign that read: "All-day parking--1 dollar."

It was easy. I collected the bucks. I got a cut, the percentage of which escapes me now. And if anybody tried to walk away without paying, which they did on occasion, all I had to do was run up Ben-Bar Lane, tell Ben and he'd call the police chief and have the car towed. Most importantly, at the tender ages of  less than 10-years-old, I had a steady income while hanging out in the summer entertainment mecca of NEPA.

Somehow (don't ask me, man), my grandmother befriended the owner of the entire Sandy Beach complex, Sam Slomowitz, which resulted in two other regular cash-paying chores. When the beach was closed day-in and day-out, I earned a five-spot by removing what the beach goers had left behind. And after Eddie Day and the boys packed up their music-making equipment and headed on home, I would saunter on up there the next morning and sweep the entire expanse of the second-floor dance hall for yet another five-spot.

So, as an unremarkable sprat, my estimated income during the summers of the mid-to-late 60s was about $60 a week. Perhaps even more. All of which I quickly blew on food, food, more food, bait & tackle, pinball machines, trinkets for me, trinkets for my grandmother, trinkets for my mother, trinkets for my step-sister trapped back in Connecticut, amusement rides at two different locations, drive-in movies and the nightly bingo excursions at the far end of the main (cafeteria) building.

My mom, who always kept everything Gene J. Cour (my long-AWOL father) very, very, very close to the vest, once told me that she met my father at Sandy Beach. As the story went, she was sunning herself on the imported white sands of Sandy Beach while munching on something or other from the snack bar. And then he appeared and said, "Can I have a bite?"


Skrapits made me do it.

Part II will be forthcoming by popular request only.


Groundhog Day in PA: Chesapeake blames EPA

From WNEP.com…

EPA Briefs Homeowners Living Near Blown Out Gas Well

By Jim Hamill
7:09 p.m. EDT, June 23, 2011

In April, a blowout at a natural gas well near Canton spilled thousands of gallons of drilling fluid into the ground and into a nearby creek. On Thursday, federal environmental officials visited some homeowners in Bradford County to share with them the results of their own tests on the water.

EPA officials sat down with Randy and Kay Morse at their home in LeRoy township and shared test results on their private water well.

Back in April, the Chesapeake gas well on the Morse's property blew, spilling thousands of gallons of flowback fluid into the ground and nearby creek.

The Morses tell Newswatch 16 the EPA's testing confirmed what they already knew: that high levels of sodium showed up in their well. The couple is still drinking bottled water as a precaution.

Just down the road, Chesapeake is installing a water filtration system at Ira Hare's home because his water well tests were much worse.

"They asked my wife if she was using it for cooking. She said yes. They said stop right away and they offered us a water buffalo," said Hare.

According to Hare, the new system will allow him to drink his well water again, and he's pleased with how Chesapeake has responded.

"Life goes on," said hare. "Still wish it hadn't happened. I would have been satisfied with my own well, but this happened."

Meanwhile, those federal environmental officials continued meeting with homeowners surrounding the well that Chesapeake officials say blew when a piece of equipment malfunctioned.

Another homeowner, who did not want to be identified, says the EPA told her they'll test her well and others in the area again early next month. Those results may not come back until August, so she plans to keep drinking bottled water and wait for more answers then.

Late Thursday afternoon, Chesapeake put out a statement saying: "While we appreciate that EPA is concerned with drinking water quality in Pennsylvania, we think it is unfortunate that they are creating confusion in the community by the way they are approaching an historic and well known problem."


Copyright WNEP

Groundhog Day in W-B: Urban blames Leighton

As you may know, this is an election year wherein we either elect a new mayor, or we reelect the current two-term mayor.

And in laughably predictable fashion, our former minority county commissioner gone political turncoat is taking shots at the mayor of the county seat. So, what else is new?

From today’s Citizens’ Voice: Urban: Diverting state money doomed Hotel Sterling

The hard-to-read excerpt: Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton's decision to divert $3 million of state funding intended to rehabilitate the Hotel Sterling "brought the wrecking ball closer" to the 114-year-old city landmark, Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban charged Thursday.

"It helped seal the fate of the Sterling," Urban said of Leighton's decision to transfer a state grant from the Hotel Sterling project to the construction of the Intermodal Transportation Center, the $28 million downtown bus terminal and parking garage.

CityVest, the nonprofit organization that owns the Hotel Sterling, said this week a private developer interested in the hotel abandoned the project early last year, citing the reallocation of the state funds as a "significant deterrent."

Give me a second to take this abject absurdity in.

Okay, the Sterling has been vacant since 1998. CityVest took control of the property and spend $6 million (allocated to it by none other than our county commissioners) and basically worked to make the property larger.

Despite burning through that aforementioned $6 million, the hotel was never properly mothballed so as to give it more time as the search for a developer dragged on and on and on during a prolonged period of economic uncertainty.

Meanwhile, the City of Wilkes-Barre was completing high-profile project after high-profile project, with yet another pivotal one suffering some serious cost overruns. Hence the, in retrospect, timely and necessary funding transfer.

According to CityVest and Urban, an unnamed developer was willing to devote perhaps as much as $33 million to restoring the hulking hotel, but would not go as high as $36 million? Is anybody signing that threadbare bill of lading?

So when it’s all supposedly said and done, CityVest never did find that long-illusive developer of choice, it never did completely secure the original hotel building, our county commissioners basically wasted another $6 million they never really had in the first place (half a billion in debt) and Steve Urban says Mayor Tom Leighton is the Hotel Sterling bogey man?!?

If I bothered to attach labels to my posts, which I do not, this one would have to be filed under ‘comic relief.’

Be it the once much-ballyhooed new prison, the bond-financed construction of a new juvenile detention facility, the Valley Crest albatross or the cash-infused Hotel Sterling project, I would ask of our oft-accusatory county commissioner which of those projects the county brain trust got right?

The county has gone half a billion in debt during his 'see-no-evil' tenure, and all that our soon-to-be deposed county commissioner has got is “Leighton did it?”

What’s next? Leighton somehow sealed the fate of Moon Lake Park?


Consider the source.


*Still wanna be my Facebook "friend?"

"Friendly Fracosaurus"

I found this at Tom Borthwick's site...

Talisman Energy Targets Children with "Friendly Fracosaurus" Gas Coloring Book

The hard-to-read excerpt: In an effort to target children in the unconventional gas debate, Calgary’s Talisman Energy has released a coloring book starring the company’s new spokesman, Talisman Terry. The Fracosaurus narrates the production cycle of unconventional gas, presenting a utopian picture of the fuel source that has galvanized communities around the world concerned over threats to water and health from gas drilling.
Following Talisman Terry, children are simplistically introduced to the complex issues of ...

Did you get a yo-yo, little boy?

Contrast that claptrap with the experiences of my grandson Zach, a month shy of his 8th birthday, who has now participated in four consecutive RiverFest paddling events.

While he may not yet know how to put it into words, he already has a feel for the frustrating duality of the river: that's it's polluted to some degree, but that it also has lots of potential for fun. And I quote the little guy as we were watching the contents of the Butler Mine Tunnel spill out into the Susquehanna River, "It's gooey!"

Complex issues? Water quality?

Here's a yo-yo.

So, KD and I were somewhat correct, even though we were merely hacking on the little guy at the time.

If the gas drillers have their way, the most frightening thing on 'Dinosaur Island' will be the Fracosaurus Erectus.



Video Flapdoodle: Sandy Beach, July 1966

Something Elizabeth Skrapits published earlier this week led me back here once again...

Ah, the good old days at Sandy Beach on Harveys Lake.

If we're allowed a self-styled version of Heaven after we pass, you'll find me at Sandy Beach.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The American Petroleum Institute (API) has been advertising quite regularly on WILK -- NEPA's talk radio blowtorch. And their frequent ads encourage listeners to visit Energy Tomorrow.org.

A hard-to-read excerpt from their "Who We Are" page: We speak for the petroleum industry to the public, Congress and the Executive Branch, state governments and the media. We negotiate with regulatory agencies, represent the industry in legal proceedings, participate in coalitions and work in partnership with other associations to achieve our members public policy goals.

In other words, they are the people who will make hydro fracturing happen in our back yards no matter how much the silly locals doth protest. They are here advertising on WILK for one overriding reason: to change the unknowing public's perception of natural gas drilling.
They look nice, they sound nice and they hand out free yo-yos, too. What's not to like?
As far as I'm concerned, the API is spending it's member's money here because far too many of those silly locals have been protesting and protesting too much. I think the API believes it has a growing problem that's in need of a systematic, but still timely fix. And I also think that we--the undaunted and unafraid folks--need to make even more noise than ever before. 
And rather than wandering around in small tribes, I think the anti-frack tribes need to unify under one banner and make the new governor clearly understand that if he wants to be a one-term governor, we'll leap at the chance to help him achieve as much.
Check this hard-to-read excerpt I snagged from Energy Tomorrow: - Chemicals - Get this: 99.51 percent of the solution used in fracking is water and sand. The chemical content in the fracking "cocktail," as opponents like to say, is less than a half of a percent.
Okay, so let's take a shot at the math, since these gas drillers are withdrawing millions upon millions of gallons of water from our tributaries every single day. What is .49 percent of untold billions of gallons of applied fracking fluids? What say you, Mr. Gas Rigger?
Uh, well, eh, did you get a yo-yo?
I handle and apply dangerous materials for a living. So I'm quite adept at calculating mixing percentages and application rates, as well as how they relate to depths, square and linear footages. Just today I applied a termiticide that my industry recognizes as the best available product since the EPA banned Chlordane in 1988.
Ready for this? The percentage of active ingredient after the product has been agitated and is ready for application comes in at a whopping .06 percent. And the remainder of the solution is comprised completely of inert ingredients.
So when some gas whore tries to tell you that .49 percent is nothing to be concerned about, tell them to jam the yo-yos where the sun doesn't shine. Namely, up their brains.
Anyway, the heavy-hitters are in town.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Last weekend was devoted to paddling. And I'm thinking this coming weekend should be devoted to bicycling. Despite all of the aquatics, I'm a land-lover at heart.

Kayak Dude published a bunch of pictures taken during our most recent paddling adventure. And I'm sure a bunch more are soon to follow.

So, the jury laid a bitch-slapping on former Lackawanna County commissioners Bob Cordero and A.J. Munchak. After the obligatory appeal process, it seems these two are headed off to a hoosegow not at all near you.

Still and all, Luzerne County has lost a county commissioner as well as three county judges to this ongoing corruption scandal. So the way I see it, Luzerne County is still Corruption Central.

If they want the infamous crown, those corrupt folks up north need to start ratting out their co-conspirators to the Fedrules. Just a suggestion.

And that's about all the time I have for this today. You see, I worked all day, got home, hit the shower, ate some pizza and it's pushing 7:30.

Hey, somebody has got to pay for all of these cushy hammocks. Er, somebody has got to pay for all of these cradle-to-grave entitlements.

Oh, wait...Gort's back. Remember him?

Yeah, that is, until Chipper and Martin Prado come off the DL as did Justin Heyward, and the Braves go on a major ripper.

Klatuu, Barada, Fu>kin' A!


Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Wyoming Valley RiverFest: Part III

Okay, lets' cover this right out of the starting gate.

No, Kayak Dude did not devour the poor, little crayfish, even though that innocent-looking crayfish tried to pinch his finger off. Although, he tells me he has eaten them in the past. Better ones. Shipped overnight in dry ice. That sort of thing. I'll stick with the grilled cheeses, thank you very much.

Anyway, for the first time ever, we did not paddle from Harding to Nesbitt Park. Since KD was scheduled to be at his own protest on the bridge by 11, we beached the hulking Iowa-class U.S.S. Dude by the dike at the Wyoming Valley Airport and waited for transport. You know, I figure if I'm to carry that monster up boat launches a half-dozen more times, I'll be collecting disability. Welfare, unemployment, disability; no matter which, I guess that would make me a new Democrat.

Once he had most of his protect materials in place and fellow protesters were arriving on the bridge, Zach and I headed down to the festival in Nesbitt Park. First of all, Zach said he was hungry. And I wanted to get on down there and look for familiar faces. Plus, it's always fun to watch people who just paddled their first 15 miles arrive at the boat launch. You know, just to see how spent they might look. And I wanted to see if either Chesapeake or Williams had set up informational booths amongst all of the environmentally-themed booths that always dominate under the tents at RiverFest.

There was no contingent from Chesapeake, which was probably a good thing. This outfit is to punishable fracking incidents what water is to the key our existence. And if they were actually on scene making with the good neighbor bit, I know damn well that my juvenile side would have been fighting for control of my being. Like I said, it's better that they weren't there.

But I did spy the Williams booth, which cracked me up to no end. The first thing I noticed was that the folks manning the booth were very physically attractive. In addition, they were so friendly and smiling away and so accommodating and very engaging. And if that's not enough, they were handing out premiums to the children. Frisbees, and Yo-Yos and...get this, ironically enough, water bottles, and all splashed with their company logo. Uh, did I mention the good neighbor routine? Yeah, I think I did.

With fracking only increasing in frequency in this area, it's the least they could do to pass out water bottles until the caravans of water buffaloes arrive. And Yo-Yos? Uh, since fracking came to town, that would be us...the Yo-Yos being yanked up and down and sideways and whatnot. So you know I just had to have one. And I do have one.

All of the folks who rented kayaks were given official 2011 RiverFest T-shirts which adorned the Williams logo on the left sleeve. And for ten bucks, even the non-paddlers could wear those very same shirts with that very same logo. RiverFest 2011, brought to you by...BIG OIL. (?)

You tell me, man. I just kayak here.

I guess the dragon boats were a cool addition and all, but I was totally disinterested. And I can tell you that Zach has been memorized by the fan boats, the hovercrafts and some of the muscled-up power boats at this event, but not by the dragon boats. Actually, he said they looked weird. That they do.

It was reported in the Citizens' Voice that protesters on the bridge were shouting down at the paddlers passing underneath through a bullhorn. While that was reported accurately, know that it came to an abrupt halt just as soon as it began. As KD explained, the protest was meant to send a message to the organizers of the event, but not meant to detract from the experience of the participants in any way.

I would identify the overzealous bullhorn operator, but since she and KD made peace near the conclusion of the event, I see no need. But if you read blogs and listen to WILK on a regular basis, her name has become a household name of late. That's your one and only hint.

I got to gab a bit with Carl Romanelli, the Green Party's representative at the protest. God love him, he gets so wound up. He's so dead serious all of the time. After I reminded him that he and I were the only Zappa Freaks at Coughlin High back in the days before the advent of electricity, and that it kind of figured that we'd both be so screwed-up later on, he smiled and admitted that perhaps he should have been omitted from the procreation list. And you have to like a guy who chuckles at his own attempts at self-defecating humor.

Enough with the long-windiness.

The annual RiverFest event was originally intended as a clarion call to all of us to get on our river, learn something about it and to raise awareness about the issues that have now led to it being named America's most endangered river. And what led to that disturbing classification? Unchecked sewage outflows and unregulated industry.

And now, five decades after the environmentally-unforgiving coal mines were shuttered, the sewage still flows into the river, and newer loosely regulated industries are being encouraged by the State of Pennsylvania to set up shop on the shores of the Susquehanna River, to inject lethal chemicals under it, to draw water from it and to discard "treated" waters into it.

So the question begs, did we learn anything from our destructive industrial past? And, five decades from now, will the inhabitants of this area be wondering how we could make the same mistake, not once, but twice?

We shall see.

Dude, as always, thanks.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

NEPA Blogs goes viral?

No Blogfather, no Yonki, no Gort.

Instead, just a couple of mostly unassuming folks who have been promoting all things local Internet for almost as long as I can remember: Harold and Michele...

NEPA Blogs on ComputerWiseTv

Kudos. Enjoy, kiddies.


2011 Wyoming Valley RiverFest: Part II

One of the most pressing concerns associated with inviting untold numbers of novices new to paddling out onto the Susquehanna River is the safety concern.

When RiverFest takes place year-in and year-out, hundreds of boats set out on river sojourns, most of which are usually under the, ahem, control of first-time paddlers. Boats do capsize, people do need immediate assistance to get pointed in the right direction all over again, water-filled boats do occasionally need to be pumped free of water, not to mention what a distant crack of lightning might mean to those novice paddlers so completely exposed to the elements.

One factor that plays into this is the varying height of the river from year to year. One year it might be listed as being 3-feet deep. And the next year it may stand at 9-feet deep. And so, when one sets off, the boils, eddy’s, rapids and long-submerged man-made obstacles wildly intensify, subtlety change or disappear entirely. And that’s a big part of what makes a yearly paddle on the same river still feel like an adventure.

When you venture down that boat launch and push off as a card-carrying participant of RiverFest, you are obliged to follow the safety rules, which pretty much means you need to point your boat due south and paddle.

Having first-time paddlers setting off in every which direction does not provide for their safety. And as a result, exploration of the river’s many tributaries, curiosities as well as it’s backwaters is strictly prohibited. In other words, stay with the group and never get out of the boat.

But since we were protesting the shocking inclusion of gas companies in this event, we did not register as participants or pay any of the meager, but necessary fees. Simply put, we were free to navigate the river any which way we wanted too, and completely free of supervision. And I while look forward to RiverFest each and every year, I simply love being able to just go off and explore like the former Boy Scout that I am.

I’ve only done as much a few times, paddling up crystal-clear tributaries, taking in secluded, picture post card quality waterfalls, and practically sticking my head into combined sewage outflows among many other probably ill-advised things. But I liken those infrequent explorations to RiverFest being River 101, and the free-ranging trips to being River 2. RiverFest is the introductory course, while free-lancing is the advanced course. Something like that.

During our downriver sojourn on this day, we put ashore and explored a minute fraction of Dinosaur Island. While Don was spinning this yarn as we fast approached, Zach was claiming he was not buying it--live dinosaurs laying in wait in the middle of the river--and that he was not afraid. He wanted to put ashore and explore. But once we did put ashore, not even once did I have to shout what I always have to shout when Zach and I are out and about: “Zach! Wait up!”

No, despite his usual penchant for running off, he stayed pretty close to me. And after Don disappeared deep into the trees and we heard growling sounds coming from the bush, Zach was just about attached to my hip. Nah, we wasn’t afraid. Not in the least.

From there, we passed over the exact site of the Knox Mine disaster, a place that always gets me to paddling faster, and then a bit faster. And with only one more island between us and both of the 8th Street bridges, Don started telling Zach about the vile creatures native to that island and how Zach should not look directly into their eyes, so as to not be turned to stone. Medusa Island, we’ll call it.

While Zach claimed to be disbelieving and not afraid, not once did he say he wanted to put ashore and explore. Not this time.

You just gotta love little kids. Despite how much they think they know, they’re still not completely sure. Thanks in part, I suppose, to adults spinning wild yarns about man-eating dinosaurs and mystical creatures that provide stone-inducing glances.

A far cry from the days of the oft-told tales of legendary Chief Muckamucka and how he led the Muckoquoi Nation to a devastating rout of the invading hordes of colonists from Connecticut.

To be continued…

2011 Wyoming Valley RiverFest: Part I

I suppose I should start with a couple of excerpts culled from today’s Times Leader, both of which were attributed to one of the few people who first envisioned RiverFest, John Maday.

“The sole purpose of RiverFest is environmental education and environmental celebration… and that’s the only purpose of it,” he said. “To teach people, you have to bring them to your classroom, and this is our classroom.”

And then this comment on Kayak Dude’s wildly successful protest event.

Maday said it is the protesters’ right to protest, and that he supports their right to make their voices heard.

I sincerely applaud his candor and his sense of fair play as it applies to our constitutional rights to free speech.

Don (KD), Zach and I were the very first of the hundreds of paddlers to put in yesterday. And as the day progressed, Don reiterated time and again with the multitudes of people who crossed our path that the bridge protest had absolutely nothing to do with the event itself.

Instead, it was all about the corporate sponsorships. A clear message was being sent to the organizers of RiverFest, as well as to two of it’s newest corporate sponsors: If “environmental education and environmental celebration” are the primary reasons we flock to the river en masse once a year, then those who claim proprietary ownership of millions upon millions of gallons of hazardous chemicals that are being injected into our watersheds at this very moment have no place at the table. No way, no how.

Interestingly, the usual suspects I have always considered to be hard-core River Rats--the paddling protectors of the environment--are suddenly deeply divided on all things hydro-fracturing and environmentalism. And the two sides break down like this: some have stuck to their principles, while some others have sold out by leasing their tracts of land to the gas-riggers.

Early yesterday afternoon, some were on the bridge raising awareness. Some were down there sleeping with the enemies of safe, potable drinking water, Chesapeake and Williams, in Nesbitt Park. And I find it sad to think that those who once seemed to be so staunchly unified and so single-minded in purpose have become so easily divided by politics and the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Going forward, I think we need to keep with the original purpose and spirit of the Wyoming Valley RiverFest as it was framed by one of it’s founders, John Maday. Environmental education and environmental celebration should always be the order of the day while celebrating upon and on the banks of a long-endangered river.

So, should those companies armed with clever-sounding spokespeople, who brought fracking to an unsuspecting Northeastern Pennsylvania be allowed to participate?

I dunno. When I’ve paddled past the pronounced acid mine staining fueled by the tainted waters uncontrollably bubbling up out of the river’s banks, I’ve never once imagined the now-defunct coal companies being invited to this valley’s foremost environmentally-conscience event.

If Blue Coal or the Knox Mine Company wouldn’t be invited, why would Chesapeake Energy?

To be continued…

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another R'Fest in the books: stay tuned

How long before P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) starts protesting these here local RiverFest events?


KD alert

I'll be out of here by 6:30, and I imagine I'll be paddling by 7:30. The one-man wrecking crew--Kayak Dude--is on his way.

Times Leader: Protest targets drillers’ sponsorship

WILKES-BARRE – An area man who opposes natural gas drilling is planning a protest of the Wyoming Valley RiverFest activities today after learning that two gas companies are among the sponsors of the event.

Citizens’ Voice: Kayaker plans protest after natural gas drillers sponsor river event

As the river sojourners paddle kayaks and canoes from Harding to Wilkes-Barre today, they should be getting an eyeful from a Susquehanna River advocate opposed to the fact that natural gas companies are sponsoring this year's .

"Susquehanna River Sentinel" blogger Don Williams is organizing a demonstration at the Pierce Street Bridge from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. He has a permit from the Wilkes-Barre police department for the signs he'll be displaying and has arranged for supporters to back him up in getting across his message: he doesn't think it's appropriate for Chesapeake Energy Corp. and the Williams Cos. to be involved in an event celebrating the river. He

I'll see some of you out there on the river.


Friday, June 17, 2011

3-day weekend

Yes, you heard that right. I've got me some well-deserved and long overdue rest and relaxation afoot. And I don't even have to rotate out of this theater to enjoy it.

Jeremy, Zach and I did some shopping today, which meant we had to venture downtown, to that supposedly dark and spooky place all of the usual activist suspects claim to fear so completely. (Wink, wink)

That tired bullspit about the downtown being dangerous is so off-base, I got to thinking about the last time I held any real fear in my heart while taking in our downtown. And the only thing I could think of was being chased by a police officer after he eyeballed me after dark dumping a box of Tide laundry detergent into the then-newish fountain in the middle of Public Square.

Honestly, it was more of a massive adrenaline burst than it was fear, but you have to remember that the police officers in those days--the 1970s--were not exactly physical specimens. If they actually managed to chase you down in those days, you ought to have died from embarrassment.

Interestingly enough, Zach got totally lit up by a police officer today for mucking about with those ancient paver bricks that have been in place for about 20 years too long now. He was respectful and quiet while he was being corrected by Lt. Harding. But I could tell it was bothering him all the way home, and he finally burst into tears when needled about it.

But we reminded him that he was told not to do it again, he said he wouldn't, so it was explained to him that he has nothing to worry about. Uh, provided that red paver bricks don't start going mysteriously missing.

So we went downtown today, that purportedly frightening place, and the only person paying us any mind was a Wilkes-Barre police officer.

And I'm all good with that.

And Zach has a new found respect for authority.

I'll be up very early, I'll be paddling the river before most of you take your first piss, and then it's off to the big protest on the Pierce Street bridge.


Enuf with the 'cupcake' wars

Ah, yes, the Wilkes-Barre City Council meeting. Er, the predictable scrum.

The excerpt before the link: "Is he trying to make me punch him in the face?”

Very nice. Very productive. Courting the sympathy vote, are we?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.--Albert Einstein

Or was it, Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and over and over and freaking over again and expecting different results.--Alfred E. Neuman (?)

First of all, the steady flow of insults coming from our elected officials is really starting to grate on my nerves.

Secondly, if you cannot clearly and concisely make your point in under five minutes flat, you've got absolutely no business engaging in public speaking of any sort. That's assuming that somebody is not purposefully filibustering so as to be an aggravate.

Lastly, making a public spectacle of oneself on a very consistent basis while fully expecting the same net result is the definition of redundancy. And last I checked, being redundant for the sake of being redundant is the definition of abject boredom.

I'm just saying.


Father's Day: Learning from bad examples

Father’s Day has always meant next to nothing for me.

Well, except for when my kids were small and all excited over the trinkets they had gotten me for the big day. I miss seeing them filled with that much anticipatory excitement.

The reasons for my lethargy: Oh, I dunno, having never known my own father. Having a substitute father who wrote the book on inflicting physical punishment and mental anguish. And for the third piss-poor act, we had the mentally-incontinent step-dad who mistakenly thought I would sit idly by while he physically abused my twelve-years-my-junior step-brother.

Gee, I hope the statute of limitations has run out on all of that pent-up blowback that was years in the making.

Anyway, when my then-girlfriend told me she was pregnant a long, long time ago, and even though I didn’t realize it at that time, I had already been well-schooled in what not to do in the event of accidentally becoming a father.

And, as fate would have it, I’m not alone in these unfortunate respects…


What I've tried to accomplish as a father
Before anything else, when the thought of being a father entered into my head a long, long time ago, I really just wanted one central thing...a kind of vow to myself: I wanted to be there for my children, to be a part of their lives, because I never had a father that was a part of my life in any meaningful kind of way. I had, growing up, the perfect example of what NOT to be as a dad. In a strange kind of way I guess I have my own father to thank for setting this (anti) example for me.

If I wasn’t as educationally-challenged as I obviously am, I could have and would have written that same paragraph, and word for frickin’ word.

Now, since damn near everybody who was ever incarcerated either blamed their predicaments on their dysfunctional upbringing, or on growing up in a one-parent, government subsidized household, how come Steve and I never marked out our territories in the same cellblock? Why aren’t we studiously working on appealing our life sentences?

In my case, I’ll heap all of the credit for keeping me a step short of the hoosegow on my god-fearing, clean-living, hard-nosed, play-by-the-rules mother and grandmother.

Ironically, while growing up, I was always called the “smart one,” a clear reference to how heredity may have infused me with some of my father’s documented brilliance.

Thing is, if I accused Steve of plagiarizing my thoughts on this matter, the few people who know me through-and-through would believe it to be true. I really hate to cause him undo unrest or any nagging distress, but we think exactly alike on this one.

Was that a primordial scream I just heard?

Whatever it may or not mean to you, happy Father’s Day.


The Luzerne County RR

Being that we reside in Culm County, which is fast becoming known as the model of political corruption for all other would-be grifters to follow, this book has to be added to the very top of your must-read list.

The Luzerne County Railroad

The author, Larry Hohol, appeared on The Sue Henry Show yesterday, and his personal interactions with the crooked judicial system in this county will knock your socks off (whatever that means).

While I won't make it to the big book signing event on Sunday, I will be ordering the paperback via this imported electronic gizmo.

Railroaded? In these here parts?

Go figure.



For the first time ever, I am conflicted by this event...

From the Times Leader: Preparations flow smoothly for RiverFest 2011

The excerpt: WILKES-BARRE – The floating docks are in place for the dragon boat teams, the sediment has been removed from the boat launch and the river level is expected to be at an optimum depth.

Temperatures are predicted to be around 80 degrees each day of RiverFest. Showers could occur this evening. The Susquehanna River level was at 3.8 feet on Friday afternoon and should be around 3 feet through the weekend.

And as long as the weather cooperates, RiverFest 2011 will be off and running today, continuing through Sunday.
“We’re in good shape,” said Vince Cotrone, RiverFest coordinator. “The docks are floating and they’re not heading toward Berwick. Everything is coming together.”

Here's another link, provided only because of the soon-to-follow excerpt: The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

Now the excerpt: The Wyoming Valley RiverFest is an event that seeks to raise environmental awareness, encourage education and foster community involvement in the Wyoming Valley Watershed. RiverFest includes opportunities to canoe or kayak on the Susquehanna River, explore riverside trails, and learn more about the Susquehanna’s wildlife, water quality, history and heritage. You are invited to come and celebrate this regional treasure, the Susquehanna River, in all its beauty, splendor and historical significance.

Environmental awareness?

Water quality?
What? While this year's 12th annual installment of RiverFest is brought to you in part by Chesapeake Energy and Williams Energy, NEPA's foremost providers of methane-tainted waters?
Corporate sponsorships are much-needed and much-appreciated during these dark economic times, but this is just flat-out wrong.
All of which clearly suggests that the RiverFest brain trust needs an immediate infusion of fresh brain matter.
Sez me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ATMs or: No hope or change until January 2013

Snagged from ABC’s Jake Tapper:

In her interview with the president airing yesterday on NBC, Ann Curry cited a New York Times report suggesting that “since the recovery began, businesses have spent just 2 percent more on hiring people, while at the same time spending 26 percent more on equipment.”

“Well, I don't think it's a matter of me being unable to convince them to hire more people,” the president said. “They're making decisions based on what they think will be good for their companies. A couple of things have happened. Look, we went through the worst crisis since the Great Depression. We are now in a process where the economy is growing again, and we've created 2 million jobs over the last 15 months. But it's not as fast as it needs to be to make up for all the jobs that were lost.”

The president said that “the other thing that happened, though, and this goes to the point you were just making, is there are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM; you don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport, and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate. So all these things have created changes in the economy, and what we have to do now -- and that's what this job council is all about -- is identifying where the jobs for the future are going to be; how do we make sure that there's a match between what people are getting trained for and the jobs that exist; how do we make sure that capital is flowing into those places with the greatest opportunity. We are on the right track. The key is figuring out how do we accelerate it.”

First glaring problem: Identifying jobs for the future? Uh, future jobs won’t pay the bills right now. Oh, wait. We've got the fast-growing welfare roles for that. I forgot.

And since when is it the Fedrule Govmint’s “job” to decide who should be trained for what and when? This is utter poppycock.

What, did ATMs built by Dick Cheney’s Halliburton first appear in early 2010, thereby short-circuiting Oblahblah’s much-trumpeted Summer of Recovery that crashed and burned just like his presidency will? Maybe Diebold did it.

Future jobs. Green jobs. Fedrule jobs. Union jobs. Yep, anything but the real jobs, the measurable, more traditional jobs that are normally created with ease by an unrestrained private sector not crippled by uncertainty, the millions upon millions of jobs that fill the treasury rather than help to drain it.

And, no bank tellers because of ATMs?

Uh, people produce ATMs. People install ATMs. Other people service ATMs. Still other people deliver funds to ATMS. And right now, some other people are likely designing the ATMs of tomorrow. Perhaps, some former bank tellers are even building them.

And, “…how do we make sure that capital is flowing…?”

What imaginary capital is he talking about, while cities are laying off police officers, firefighters, municipal workers, and while school districts have been forced to embrace emergency austerity programs with depraved abandon?

Lastly, “…train workers for jobs that exist? Honestly!

Last I checked, the private sector managed to train people for jobs that exist very nicely. Well, at least, when it was still hiring before the entitlement-crazed Democrats managed to force the collapse of the housing market in the name of their self-styled vote-for-me social justice.

If you voted for this woefully inexperienced, self-impressed charlatan who would rule by executive fiat even as the precipice draws dangerously near, I expect your email apology in my inbox by the time I climb out of bed tomorrow. Or, you could continue to stubbornly stick with the intellectual dishonesty bit.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grab bag (of jumbled thoughts)

Sue Henry of WILK fame absolutely nailed it earlier today.

In response to our cherub-in-chief, Baroke Oblahblah, once again promising to refocus his oft-oft-oft and oft-refocused energies on job creation all over again (yawn), she likened his familiar words to Groundhog Day.

Kudos, kiddo.

I’ve been intently following the ongoing corruption trial of the two former Lackawanna County commissioners. So much so, I’ve even been tuning in to WILK radio after 3 o’clock. Yeah, I’m man enough to admit it. For the time being, I’ve been subjecting myself to Radio Free Minooka.

A couple of things have come to mind.

The first being that when former commissioner Robert Cordaro frequently appeared on WILK during the recent past, he always, and I mean always struck me as one smart cookie. From what I heard, he always came across as the smartest person in the room. And probably the most personable, too.

But the repeatedly damning testimony emanating from that trial up there in Scranton clearly suggests otherwise. Whether he’s ultimately convicted or found innocent of the half-billion serious charges he faces, my perception of him has taken a precipitous turn for the worse.

The other thing I was reminded of was the once-again growing list of folks who have been employed by WILK, the folks who have guest-hosted on WILK and the folks who have paid to be hosts on WILK that have been sent up the river to the hoosegow.

I used to suspect that perhaps the station management wasn’t properly screening these prospective know-it-alls, movers & shakers and those who would be king.

But after further review, when all of the prospective know-it-alls, movers & shakers and those who would be king in this area seem to be secretly corrupt in some respects, what’s the station management supposed to do?

I know! Go “The Joe Thomas” of Facebook fame 24/7.

Then again, I dunno. It’s just a suggestion.

Even though we are, ideologically speaking, diametrically opposed, I’ve frequently thought of Gort as an electronic wingman of sorts as the local blog scene developed out of virtually nothing into something substantial and mostly worth reading.

I learned early on that he cloaked his identity because of his job. And I respected his decision. And he drew a great measure of respect from me when he suggested out of the blue that we get together over a couple of 12-packs back when darn near everyone else was assaulting me via email for having the temerity to do what I once did on the Internet, and while I lashing out right back at ‘em.

And, yes, he’s a fan of those hapless Philthydumpia pro sports teams, something that could have resulted in his head being stapled back together had he ever stopped by and met my now deceased brother, Ray. Eagles? Phillies? Look, nobody’s perfect.

I talked to him recently, and I was stopped dead in my tracks when he said he thought Barack Obama was doing a “good” job. And even though his comment resulted in tiny bubbles coming out of my nose, I sought out no point/counterpoint exchange.

The thing is, even though he is the oil to my water and vice versa, we’ve never gotten into nastiness to any serious degree. And I think that’s what I’ve always liked about him the most. We could disagree most vociferously 364 days out of the year, but meet on that other day and throw back a couple of beers.

Politics is the ultimate non-contact sport. It is some real cut-throat ugliness when the rubber meets the road to the next election. But only some of us have the ability to fight that good fight like there’s no tomorrow, but then get together the next day at the local pub.

It seems to me that Gort’s interest in, commitment to or available time for writing on the Internet has been waning for some time now. At least, that’s the way it seems to me.

And if any of that is even close to the truth of the matter, he should know that while blogs will come and blogs will go, only a select few--like Gort’s-- will be remembered over the long haul.

If this is the end, either join me here, become the rapid-fire comment regular or simply fade away and enjoy life. But know that no matter what becomes of your once Herculean efforts, if you decide to opt out, your efforts have been widely appreciated.

So what’s the deal, Gort?

Zorcong, V’ger and many others need to know.

RiverFest Update

Not only are myself and Zach--a soon-to-be 4-year RiverFest veteran still a month shy of his 8th birthday--ready to paddle, so are a whole bunch of my immediate family members.

First of all, my nephew Mason (2-year vet), his mom, Jen, and her beau Lenny (1-timers) are signed up and ready to go.

In addition, my youngest daughter Ebon and her fiancé, Jason, have hooked up with Endless Mountain Outfitters for a couple of kayaks.

So for the first time ever, this event will have a family feel to it.

And I couldn’t be happier.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Oh my goodness!!!: Engineers are on the way

If you weren't previously, you might want to start worrying.

You know, like stocking up on water, canned goods and ammo worried.

Obama Unveils Plan to Train U.S. Engineers

Selected excerpts…

1.) President Obama, in what he described as an "all-hands-on-deck strategy" to boost the economy, announced a new program Monday aimed at training 10,000 new American engineers every year.

2.) Last week, the president announced a new training program in the manufacturing sector. The program he unveiled Monday would try to ensure U.S. engineering students have the skills to qualify for openings that companies sometimes struggle to fill.

3.) The president also announced what he called the "better buildings initiative," a push to upgrade buildings for energy efficiency that would be co-led by former President Bill Clinton. He claimed the upgrades, while putting contractors to work, could in the long run save companies $40 billion a year -- money that could be put to use hiring new workers.

"It is a win-win-win-win proposition," Obama said.

4.) The president's jobs council is headed by General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt.

In an opinion piece published Monday in The Wall Street Journal, Immelt and American Express CEO and chairman Ken Chennault laid out a series of jobs council ideas to increase employment, including easing visa applications to attract more tourists and the plan to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Meanwhile, back at the back of the growing soup line…

Perkins files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Excerpt #1...NEW YORK - Restaurant owner Perkins & Marie Callender's Inc. today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, brought down by tough competition, the weak economy and rising food costs.

The owner of the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery and the Marie Callender's chains said in the filing it plans to shutter 65 stores and cut 2,500 jobs, or about 20 percent of its work force of 12,350.

The restaurant chain has three locations in Luzerne County: on Route 309 in Wilkes-Barre Township, Route 315 in Pittston Township and Route 93 in Sugarloaf Township. Perkins also has locations in Dickson City, Tunkhannock, Mount Pocono and Stroudsburg.

Excerpt #2 (much more telling)…The two chains were "adversely affected by the languishing economy, including declines in consumer confidence and sluggish consumer spending and increased commodity costs," CEO J. Trungale said in a statement in November, following its most recent quarterly earnings filing for the period ended Oct. 3, 2010.
Food costs have increased since then, pressuring food makers and restaurant chains alike.

As a former general manager of restaurants owned by not just one, but two different restaurant chains, I think my opinion on this development should carry more weight than those of most others.

The most pressing of the myriad of problems facing Perkins are the obvious shortage of engineers, a clear lack of “better buildings” and the lack of visa-sporting tourists.

The question I have is, could Jimmy “Economic Malaise” Carter win next year’s Democrat Primary election?

Methinks it’s worth exploring.

Methinks our current lame duck president is beginning to wildly flail all about.

Methinks all that he really cares about is his job.


*As I said, intellectual dishonesty.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kayak Dude is the bad guy?

Thanks to the fact that the organizers of the 12th annual Wyoming Valley RiverFest have decided to accept sponsorships from two of the most fined of the Marcellus Shale gas drilling outfits, my only paddling partner, Kayak Dude, has promised a robust protest this Saturday, the details of which have not been shared with me.

Is that a floatation device, or a bomb vest?

Whoa! Whoa, I‘m kidding.

While the U.S.S. Dude surely qualifies as a Missouri-class battleship, it’s load capacity is that of a Yugo. So don’t sweat it. We’ll not be carrying any ammonium nitrates or any garden variety fertilizers. Mostly bottled water and Nutri-Grain bars.

KD, or Don Williams as some might know him, is single-minded in purpose whereas the Susquehanna River is concerned. I’ve known him long enough, I’ve seen him in action enough and heard him wax poetic enough to know that he yearns for the day when the river is as a pristine a water resource as it was when the earliest settlers of this area first ran across it.
And while you could say that perfection is mostly unattainable, the seeking out of perfection should never be discouraged. Or as I’ve been frequently known to post, the only limit to your ability is your imagination. And in these watery respects, Don’s limitless imagination is rivaled only by his uncompromising commitment.

While it’s painfully obvious to me that the organizers of this annual event need corporate sponsorships so as to make it the best ever event, I too cannot remotely condone the acceptance of funding from companies that have displayed a lackadaisical environmental attitude, especially as the growing number of health-threatening incidents pertain to the water quality of NEPA, as well as to that of the Susquehanna River.

In the dark, secluded place that is my misfiring mind, it’s all akin to Bible-thumpers accepting money from Satan Inc. so as to put on the annual church picnic. I cannot feature that sort of sellout.
So, much like I did in June of 2001 when some guy (KD) emailed me out of the blue and asked me if I’d be interested in getting out on the Susquehanna and actually learning something about it while our now-deposed, long-term congressman was pretending to know all things aquatic recreating and water quality, I will once again follow the lead of those who are much learned than I.

RiverFest, June 2001
In July of 2008, I posted the following--Frickin’ fracking?, after Don, forever the water advocate, had clued in me to the coming environmental storm. As far as I know, that was the first ever sort of in-depth attempt at making local people aware of what was then little-heard of, but soon to be added to the local lexicon.

And once the word “fracking” approached the ranks of what could only be called common parlance in these here behind-the-times parts, and when it was becoming patently obvious that those in the know early on were rushing to sign gas-drilling leases, Don said via email, “This is gonna get ugly.”

And as far as I’m concerned, when a hard-core river advocate who has championed a unique local river event since it’s inception suddenly feels the need to protest said river event, you know that Corporate America has managed to taint that which used to be pure in purpose.

And no matter what sort of protest Don has planned for this Saturday’s annual paddling event, I can’t help but be reminded of the Crying Indian commercials that at one time introduced an unenlightened America to the wholesale disregard for our immediate environs.

So, this has gone far beyond a one-time prediction of becoming ugly. In fact, ugliness has arrived like a conquering army.

And when Don Williams, the committed, the illustrious and the one-and-only unrelenting Kayak Dude, has been deemed to be ugly by his fellow river cohorts and on his own beloved, meandering turf, you have to know that the organizers of the Susquehanna River’s premiere local event have sold out for a corporate buck.

So, I’m left to ask, is this about promoting the usage and enjoyment of a troubled free-flowing river? Is this still an event that clearly demonstrates to the paddling neophytes that water quality issues should, in fact, be a part of their mindsets forever going forward?

Or will this be, in retrospect,  a farce paid in part by those who’s actions release methane bubbles into the river’s waters, but who will not take responsibility for it, or any of the other many environmental disasters associated with hydraulic fracturing?

Dude, I will follow you anywhere. Well, save for that Knox Mine site.

Ramming speed!!!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Idiot plus alcohol plus velocity...

When the near record temperatures arrived on Wednesday, so did one nasty chest cold. So, I dealt with it.

While it's been hot, it's been humid and it's been necessary to avoid direct sunlight for long, I've been feeling far less than optimal. So last night, even though I had to work early this morning, I decided to make like most Americans do and I followed the path to the sudsy yellow nozzle, while I was loading up on Nyquil.

And at about a half hour to midnight, feeling nice and fuzzy and all, I wandered off to bed. And I actually slept quite peacefully for the first time in three days.

And then the big BANG! arrived at exactly 1 a.m...BANG!!!

And almost immediately, the fog horn noise from the remade War of The Worlds started sounding, linked perfectly to blinding, piercing pulses of light. I do not remember ever springing out of my bed faster than that. The Tripods were on the march! And so was Markie.

And as I headed out the door with a Streamlight,a stiletto and the portable police scanner in hand, the eery similarity to War of The Worlds movie was not lost on my neighbor Wes as he made an almost instant reference to the Tom Cruise flick.

Turns out, all that was afoot was some simple algebra. Or, was it trigonometry. Like calculating the square footage of a triangular-shaped structure, or something. Uh, I dunno. But I remember the oft-repeated telephone pole equation well enough: Idiot plus alcohol plus velocity equals the removal of immovable objects.

Care to grade that one?

Yeah, some ass munch took down two telephone poles, an unusually large transformer was exploding and arcing after it had crashed to the pavement and broke into pieces. Oh, and it's liquid contents (no more PCBs I'm told) were pouring into the storm sewer necessitating that both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority be notified. And judging by their disinterested responses, I'm left to assume that the precious environment only needs protecting during normal business hours. Typical government employees.

So, the driver was placed in handcuffs as a police officer removed empty beer bottles from what remained of the crumpled truck and lined them up on the roof. A large and seemingly joyous Friday night crowd gathered and very quickly had to be shooed away by the throng of first responders armed with flashlights.

It seemed those folks with the Milwaukee's Bests in hand weren't all that fearful of the criss-crossing downed wires. And since they were feeling no pain, perhaps they should have been allowed to frolic all about without direction from the authorities.

If it were my call to make, we'd have to call it a non-call.

Anyway, at 1 a.m., it was the War of The Worlds reenactment just outside. By 2:20 a.m., the first of the PP&L emergency crews arrived on scene. And I can only imagine what they radioed back to their base. Something along the lines of holy f__k!?!

At 3:30, it occurred to me that 5:00 comes fast, with or without an electrically-powered alarm clock. So I hit the couch with nary a fan or an air conditioner. And I relived that couple of seconds contained within were the best special effects I had ever been privy to. And by 7, I was in route to and but mere minutes away from a job site.

So I'm sick and tired. No, not sick and tired, as in, sick and tired with the intellectual dishonesty of the left-leaning. What I mean is, I'm sick. And I'm tired, too.

But I ain't been plucked by any aliens.


*The last of the PP&L crews left near 4 p.m. Perhaps when the idiot sobers up, they should hand him the bill.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hotter than Hell: Not a snowball in sight

My entire day was spent out-of-doors.

I left the modest adobe a tad shy of 7 in the morning, and I’m now back here out of the long reach of the soaring temperatures that can up and crush your manhood when coupled with prolonged bouts of direct sunlight.

I had a co coworker pitching in today, somebody who is used to working exclusively indoors. And when I tell you he was visibly wilting, be mindful of the reality of the situation, which was that I thought he was going to faint dead away on a few occasions.

The thing is, while just about everybody bitches out loud about out the borderline record-setting heat waves and worse, only a few of us are accustomed to facing the worst that they have to offer while being gainfully employed far from the reach of the air conditioners.

And to thrive in such an overheated environment requires experience, a workout regimen far removed from the ‘norm, seriously-honed hydration practices, a few well-timed smoke breaks and the ability to ignore the obvious discomfort and step it up into another gear no matter what Mother Nature has to say about matters. You know, dogged stick-to-itiveness that throws the bird at the increasing fragility of your mortality.

Anyway, there came a point late this afternoon when I was on my knees on concrete for far too long, I was secretly cursing the sunlight that was making things a bit insufferable, I was trying to direct my sometimes overwrought coworker who looked as if he had had more than enough, when this familiar voice from my past upped and provided me with the comic relief that gave me that little, that extra kick in the pants.

"Yeah mom? Well what do you care? That's all you care about, somebody sitting down in the snow and letting it melt through your four pair of corduroys. You don't care that Junior Barnes hit me on the side of the face with a slush ball and let all the gunk go down in my underwear because if you did care you'd go out and get him!"

I'm going to get Junior Barnes. I'm going to get you Junior Barnes, boy I'm going to get you. And I started to make a snowball for Junior Barnes. I made a snowball that was so round and so perfect. And it's got a little name inscribed (on it) says "Junior Barnes."

 And I went out looking for Junior Barnes."Junior Barnes? You gunky… Oh… Junior Barnes." I couldn't find him. And it was 7.30. I had to get home before the monsters come out. And I took that snowball home. And I put it in the freezer.

And I waited. July. July 12th. My birthday. It was 104 degrees in the shade. Not a snowball in sight.

Junior Barnes was sitting on the steps in front of my house. I was standing there with him. I had gone to great lengths to prove to Junior Barnes that I was his greatest friend. Let him drink out of my orange soda bottle without even wiping it off.

And old Junior Barnes just sitting there telling his little jokes, "ha ha ha ha ha." And I was laughing right with him, "Junior Barnes, you are so-o-o-o-o- funny ha ha ha ha ha!" And I said, "Junior Barnes, I'm going in the house, and get an orange soda for us. You just wait right here. ha ha ha ha ha." You gunky.

And I walked in the house, and opened that freezer door, and my mother had thrown the snowball away.

 So I went back outside and I spit on him.
Bill Cosby, kiddies. I know the Democrats hate him these days for daring to speak out on social morays and racial politics.

But if you were a kid growing up when I was a kid, thanks entirely to him, you had to have been afraid, even petrified of crossing the Eighth Street Bridge after dark.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Markie Drudge

I’m going all Drudge-like on you today.

CNN Money: GM CEO calls for $1 gas tax hike

FOX News: 1 in 3 Employers Will Drop Health Benefits After ObamaCare Kicks In, Survey Finds

LA Times: Obama’s chief economic advisor resigning

ABC News: Obama Says We Don't Know Yet Whether Disappointing Jobs Report is 'a Longer Trend'

CNN Money: Bernanke: Job market 'far from normal'

National Review: Can Obama Overcome Obamanomics?

Human Events: Obama On Jobs: "We Don’t Know Yet What Happened"

An excerpt: This latest head-scratching quote from Obama highlights the difference between his disastrous approach and what the House Republicans are calling for. I find it increasingly difficult to understand how any rational citizen can support the Obama approach. How does it make sense to keep giving more money and power to the man who says every single ramification of his policies is “unexpected?”

All of which leads me to this…ONE…MORE…TIME…

“Note that not only can Republicans do better than that, but they will have to do better in order to win in 2012.”

In actuality, anyone, even some systematically vilified chick from Alaska can do better than to have the lowest percentage of Americans gainfully employed since the Great Depression.

If Barry doesn’t walk away, he is going to be shown the door in a very, very grotesque manner in November of 2012. Well, provided that one more “unexpected“ shock delivered to the economic system doesn‘t put an end to our experiment in democracy long before that.

Barry is one and done.

And deservedly so.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Word Police alert

This one cracked me the funk up.

I snagged this from a local blog...

Let me do my Conservative Republican imitation for you..."Barry.  Like that Hope and Change yet?  Osama Obama. Obamalama.  This picture." ...and I could go on.  It's as if political criticism from a party of supposed "thinkers" has degraded into nothing more than a bunch of Limbaugh sound bytes.  Note that not only can Republicans do better than that, but they will have to do better in order to win in 2012.

Uh, I"m confused. I thought his birth name was Barry Soweto? So, what, we've got another new rule coming from the other side? No more Barry? How about Tom, Harry, or clueless dick?

Here's the updated rules...

*You cannot use the middle name.

*You cannot use the real surname.

*And now, you cannot use his real first name.

Anything else?

Frankly, that's not a problem for me. All along, I've been modifying his name to correctly match his inept performance as part time president and full time White House golf pro/am coordinator...Baroke Oblahblah. You know what I'm going on about, the country is broken, and in response, he keeps yammering on with the condescending, self-immolating blah, blah, blah and blahs.

In a nutshell, he was a very, very, very bad hire. But I didn't hire him. Did you?

Truth be told, here's the self-important, partisan gibberish that set me off...

Note that not only can Republicans do better than that, but they will have to do better in order to win in 2012.

Preaching to the leftist choir is cool and all. Jeez, thats the oft-repeated act of 99% of the bloggers in this corrupt area. But be served, just because like minds agree doesn't make it so. And haughtily talking down to those of with unlike minds only goes so far as to impress yourself and the like-minded choir.


The only thing the Republicans have to do to win is to sit idly by and allow the charlatan who's name cannot be uttered in public without prior approval to continue to flail all about while his sagging internal polling hints that he might want to plan for his next job...his second ever job.

Luckily, the Republicans are trying to intervene right now, shortly before the man with no Fedrule budget, no resume, no experience, no basis in the economic realities of a free market system and two or three sets of wafting names sends us all to hell.

As far as I'm concerned, I'll call the charlatan any fu>king thing I want. And don't come crying to me when a loaf of bread sets you back a five-spot next year.

You know, grossly devalued dollar. Record deficits. Accelerating inflation begets hyper-inflation. All of that good stuff the Republicans can't hope to match.

Fu>k Barry! And fu>k anyone who dares to play the role of Word Police.


Best blogs of 2011

Some necessary reading?

From Time.com: The Best Blogs of 2011


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kiss the 3rd quarter goodbye

In our much sought after perfect world, we hire yet another platoon of new police officers, we add a newly-formed street sweeper division and we add three new engine companies to our fire department.

Unfortunately, at the national level, we are completely devoid of capable leadership.

CNN Money: State, local layoffs to hit record levels

The excerpt: NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Don't look to state and local governments to prop up the job market.

To the contrary, this cash-strapped sector is set to go on a record-breaking layoff binge when the new fiscal year starts on July 1.

State and local governments are forecast to shed up to 110,000 jobs in the third quarter, the first time the blood-letting has risen into the triple digits, according to IHS Global Insight.
"We're on a downward path," said Greg Daco, principal U.S. economist at IHS. "It's not looking good."

Hope & Change, anyone?

By the way, does anyone know how the pretend president did on the back nine today?

Much like his disastrous budgetary performance to date, I'm thinking he went over the allotted strokes.


Intemperate stuff

I’m still trying to determine how scaling back full time kindergarten to half-day kindergarten somehow qualifies as grossly under educating…wait for it in deeply reverent tones…THE CHILDREN.

Remember, in my day, there was no such thing as all-day kindergarten. And many of those who came before my generation never attended kindergarten at all. And believe it or not, very many of us can get through even the worst of days without assistance. Or as presidential hopeful Herman Cain put it, “the department of happy.”
I guess we were just, you know, how do the class warriors from the left put it, “ more fortunate.”

For the purposes of condensing things, perhaps we could dispense with nap time, snack time (radiated fruits, veggies and bottled water only!), backpack safety training, Green 101, the risk-averse recess and the part about how Heather has a pansexual threesome in lieu of parents. Surrogate parenting of the lamest variety.

Yeah, we could give the old routine that produced rocket scientists (Hi, Dad, wherever you are) and scholars and playwrights and doctors and presidents another try. A half a day of pencils, chalk, reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Oh, and how about some Dodgeball.

Then again, if we scaled things back and made them more economically proportionate, Big Education wouldn‘t be a bottomless money pit anymore. We can’t do that.
I dunno.

And before you go expounding on the merits of education and all things educating, know that, thanks to the politicization of education, educating has become not unlike Larping. They role-play, most of it looks real but isn’t and if you’re not real careful, it can get prohibitively expensive. It’s like, (wink, wink) mostly window dressing. You know, pretend.

Sez me.

I keep hearing all of this useless chatter about tornadoes, as if all or most of NEPA has recently been pounded flat. Here’s the scoop.
Either the weather patterns are cyclical in nature but always subject to change, or the end of the world is afoot as climate change is accelerating. And if the latter is upon us, the question begs, what to do about it?

Now, the folks that profess to know about all things that have never, ever occurred before tell us that we need to change-out our toilets, swap light bulbs, buy plug-in cars that have far less of a capability than my bicycles, recycle all of our coal-guzzling appliances, walk to the store even though we bought the pint-sized hybrids, eat only the natural foods known to have generated the most E-coli outbreaks and when we’re not out hugging trees during our lunch hours, embrace mass transit.
Meanwhile, those much more environmentally aware, far more educated and way too preachy folks are gassing-up their Escalades.
Sheep, they call you.

Anyway, when the killer tornado finally lays waste to this place, and as you are being propelled skyward to a certain death with your life passing across your eyes, you’ll probably regret not living your life to the fullest at the constant behest of the folks that did.

Huh. Suddenly, Studebaker Hoch--the superhero of the current economic slump--comes to mind. And…INTO…THE…SKY!!!
He could be a dog
Or a frog
Or a lesbian queen!
Fly to New York!

He could be a narc
Or a lady marine!

Sorry, sorry. I freaking hate when that happens. Never mind.
Yes, kiddies, as it turns out, sheep can indeed fly.
And that’s enough with blatant imbecility being used to make complete sophistry of incrementally induced mass imbecility.

Have a nice Green day, but keep one eye on the sky.